After President-elect Barack Obama's Whistle-Stop Tour Saturday, official inauguration festivities kicked off Sunday afternoon with the "We are One" concert at Lincoln Memorial.
The gates opened at 7 a.m., but there was word of people getting there by 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. to wait for the prime spots in front of the monument.
Our journey to the concert didn't exactly go as planned. It seems to be a common theme among many who arrived just for the inauguration.
The concert was exactly what you'd expect: energizing, exciting, and pretty cheesy.
There is really no way to describe watching old ladies rock out to "Shout" or young guys in baggy jeans get into a serious sing-along with Pete Seeger. Obama is bringing us together with our guilty pleasure of pop stars!
Here is a video collection of the concert:
Knowing we will be outside for almost a full day on Tuesday, and being a little hung over from the night before, we stalled a little too long and seemed to arrive at the National Mall when everyone else did. We had about an hour and a half before the show started, which apparently made us lazy. The crowds quickly condensed into several entry point lines that wound around the reflecting pool towards the stage. We patiently waited in a line with others who were upbeat and excited to get in.
People complained about the cold and we were on the verge of proudly proclaiming our Minnesotan roots that therefore make us tougher than the entire crowd around us. It was near freezing, people! Love it!
When we finally hit a point in the line that felt promising, security stopped admitting folks. Just our luck. A very patient crowd turned to a peeved crowd as we all turned around to make our way elsewhere. Very Minnesotan as everyone quietly swore under their breath and kept moving.
All of the rejected ended up crammed along the edges of the crowd already gathered on the lawn in front of the Washington Monument, which meant some serious stretching of the neck to get a glimpse of the jumbo screen up above. No need to see the screen to dance around though.
The concert was exactly what you'd expect: energizing, exciting, and pretty cheesy. All of the performers (from Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen to Shakira and Beyonce) performed American-themed songs and anthems that became instant sing-alongs in the crowd. The crowd's personal favorites included "Shout" sung by Garth Brooks and Pete Seeger's "This Land is Your Land".
Our favorite guest appearances: Steve Carrell and Jack Black. Seriously? Do they really represent the historic nature of this day?
Since we were watching all of the performances on a big screen, the crowd actually became the more interesting part of the show. Watching a big screen is just watching TV outside anyway, right? When Shakira walked onto the stage for her appearance with Stevie Wonder and Usher, the crowd burst into laughter. When the whole crowd started chanting "Obama" after his last speaking moment of the show, another group started chanting "Beyonce". She hadn't played yet and people were upset. Why come to an inauguration concert if Beyonce isn't there?
We were with the common folks, but people like the New York Times and Washington Post had prime access to the ridiculous celebs we've come to admire. Check out Politico's slideshow here.